Alumni Profile: Wellford Dillard, MBA ’97
Wellford Dillard, MBA ’97, is a guy who knows how to grow a business. He has
in impressive track record in helping turn around struggling companies. Today he
is using his financial expertise to help sick people get well.
Dillard is CFO of GetWell Network, a leading provider of interactive patient
care solutions to hospitals around the country. The company’s CEO, who is a cancer
survivor, came up with the idea of giving consumers more control over their care.
The company’s subscription-based software controls in-room TVs and devices that
provide instructional videos to hospital patients. The mix of videos is customized
for each patient; watching the videos helps patients understand their condition
and treatment. Patients can also use the device to ask doctors and nurses questions
before seeing them in person, which makes it easier to have informed treatment discussions.
A mobile app helps patients remember what medications they are taking and what their
treatment directives were after they are released from the hospital.
“We feel like we kind of invented this industry, to where the healthcare industry
recognizes that we need to move back to a patient centered environment, not a clinician
centered environment,” says Dillard. “We're moving into the C-suite as a key part
of the patient engagement strategy.”
At the Social Enterprise Symposium, Dillard brought his unique expertise to a
group of 19 MBA and undergraduate students during an invitation-only boardroom discussion
on “Innovation and Financial Strategy: Scaling Impact.”
“When you work in venture-backed businesses, the money comes from outside owners,
so fiscal responsibility is important. But fiscal responsibility and social responsibility
are not separate things, and social responsibility can create profits,” Dillard
says. “At GetWell Network, every time we've made the right decision for the patient,
it's also been the most profitable decision for our investors.”
Originally, the company’s goal was to be profitable by 2012. That could have
been done, but instead Dillard showed the board how the company could instead make
investments to improve patient outcomes, which would improve the company’s ROI story,
which would drive sales. “Those things are not obvious from a P&L perspective,”
says Dillard. “Today we have fantastic ROI and new products that have been important
for patient outcomes. And our sales were three times that of the previous year.
We’re going to double in size and revenue this year.”
The company can boast of some impressive outcomes as a result of its hospital
partnerships. One hospital experienced a 60 percent reduction in its readmission
rate. Another realized a 24 percent increase in staff responsiveness. One medical
center saw its pharmacy revenue rise by $1.6 million, just because GetWell Network’s
software reminded patients to fill their prescriptions. The company is so highly
regarded that last year it was sold to Wells Carson, a private equity fund that
specializes in healthcare IT.
Dillard is passionate about improving patient outcomes. He uses his financial
acumen to help GetWell Network make the most of its resources for the benefit of
the patients it serves. Dillard urged students to be similarly passionate about
the work they do, no matter where their skills are employed: “People are more passionate
about their smart phones than they are about their jobs. How can you be more passionate
about your phone than you are about where you spend one third of your life?”
About the Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader
in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the
University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate,
full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive
education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The
school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning
locations in North America and Asia.